New York fur companies are using their skills during the coronavirus lockdowns.
Golfo Karageorgos, who owns the Garment District business Tres Chic Furs, has been mass-producing three-ply, non-woven disposable masks to donate to everyone from local corrections officers and supermarket workers to doctors and nurses during the pandemic.
“Nobody needs fur coats right now. Manufacturing fur right now is nonessential, so we’re using our resources to help the community until manufacturing gets back to normal,” Karageorgos told The Post.
Tres Chic Furs has six employees devoting all their time to making masks, working longer hours than normal from the comfort of their homes.
“I’ve been doing the cutting and giving out the fabric to some of my people at home to sew to keep my team members safe to do this safely,” Karageorgos said.
“We’re producing tens of thousands of these and giving them out as we’re making them, literally, as people need them.”
Karageorgos said it wasn’t easy to switch gears. The masks she’s producing are commercial grade, not medical grade, because of the difficulty in sourcing the proper materials.
“I tried everywhere to find medical-grade fabric, we’ve all been trying to do that. If you’re to do something, you want to do it right, but it’s impossible to find,” she said, “We were able to be resourceful in getting some fabrics that would work for this.”
Big fashion houses have also pitched in to help make equipment. So Karageorgos said smaller companies should also do their part.
“The coronavirus has shown how important local, small manufacturers are given the crisis we’re enduring right now and how broken our supply chain is,” Karageorgos said.
She added that it’s been spooky going to work to make the personal protective equipment.
“It’s been weird to have nobody around going to my factory and working alone cutting, but it’s what we have to do now to social distance correctly and help out at the same time,” she said.
Karageorgos said her business will endure coronavirus as it has other tough times since her father started Tres Chic Furs in 1980.
“The city tried to ban the fur industry last year, and we fought them, saying that we’re local small business owners and manufacturers and were the foundation of the city and what it’s built on. And if anything, this pandemic has shown has important local manufacturing and small business is.
On top of the masks being made, local trade group FurNYC purchased and provided 5,000 CDC-certified KN95 masks to City Councilman Robert Cornegy to donate to Woodhull and Interfaith Hospitals, which are both located in his district.
“I’m pleased to work with the fur industry on this initiative, to manufacture masks for people and secure KN95 masks for people on the front lines in hospitals.
Cornegy, who said it’s “no secret” that he was supportive of not banning New York’s furriers, praised the fur industry as a model for other industries during the crisis.
“Politics and crisis make for unique bedfellows,” Cornegy told The Post. “This is an opportunity for two forces, a politician and a unique industry, to help serve the people of New York. We should all be able to come together in crisis to do good for our city.”